Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Whipping boy

Title: Whipping boy
Genre: Clex,Implied relationship, beyond - Angst, R (violence, language), Sacrifice,
Summary: Who would believe that Lionel would be the one to prove Clark’s love.

Whipping Boy

“Mr. Luthor,” Lex’s secretary hesitantly intruded on his privacy “The call you’ve waited for from Gothem is on line one.”

Lex grabbed up the phone waiving her out as he answered harshly, “Bruce, what did you find out?”

“Get down here, Q/Q.” The line died.

Lex slammed the phone on the receiver, called out to his secretary that he was going to Gothem and she should cancel all of his meetings for the day. Bruce had used their old quick and quiet code, which meant that Lex needed to Lionel keep in the dark. Thankfully, this had already been planned out in case the need arose, and no sooner than Lex pulled out of the garage, he noticed Dick Grayson’s vehicle trailing after his. For several miles they followed the highway to Gothem before Alfred’s voice came over the small earpiece he’d been keeping in his pocket until moments before, “Sir, the coast, as it were, is clear.”

As planned, Grayson pulled up beside him where they stopped for the briefest of seconds and climbed over the passenger side door exchanging cars, (just in case Lionel had placed a sensor on the door to know when and where he got out). Grinning broadly at Lex, Grayson sped off at such a reckless speed that anyone tracking the Ferrari’s gps signal would be certain that Lex was driving. By contrast, Lex maintained a sedate speed until the nearest exit where he turned around and sped towards Smallville.

Just outside the Smallville city limits, Lex parked beside a long black limo and leaving the keys in ignition climbed joins Bruce in the Limo.

“What did you find out?” Lex demanded “What or who has Clark been doing?”

Despite his intention to remain cool and aloof, avoiding the pain of his suspicions about Clark, Lex’s voice rattled sharply. Bruce shook his head groping for an answer that could ease the pain he knew his friend was about to feel. There wasn’t one; the only answer he had was to carefully grasp Lex’s tightened fist and intertwine their fingers, before he flipped up the DVD screen. Looking at his friend with concern, Bruce waited for some sign that Lex could take this.

Lex nodded grimly, expecting to see the most painful scene he could imagine,
and the screen flickered to life.

Clark stood in the doorway of Lex’s office glaring at someone within.

“Come in, come in… you’re right on time” Lex was stunned to recognize his father’s voice.

Looking disgusted, Clark started into the office when Lionel’s voice stopped him, “Aren’t we forgetting something?”

Clark’s fists clenched and unclenched as his aura of revulsion grew, but Lionel’s voice brooked no challenge, “Now, unless you would like to reconsider our agreement?”

Lex’s fist jerked as he started to turn the DVD off. He couldn’t think of anything worse than his father and Clark having any form of agreement until Clark began to drag his shirt off over his head. He could almost feel his heart ripping inside him and wanted to scream…He would have screamed if Bruce hadn’t wrapped his arms around Lex holding him in place.

“No,” Bruce ordered, as Lex fought to turn away.

“Oh, God. Bruce… don’t make me watch this, I can’t …” Lex begged.

“Lex…” Bruce struggled to find the words to make Lex see what was about to happen.

But, before he could get the words out, Lionel’s voice commanded the scene again. “That’s far enough, whipping boy.” His words carried the strange, cruel edge, which Lex had always believed that Lionel reserved specifically for him, “Dominic, the bracelets.”

“Dominic? What the hell?” Lex burst out as he turned back to watch the scene. It hurt to think of Clark working with Lionel, much less in any form of agreement that would involve Clark undressing. The thought sickened him. But, Dominic’s presence changed the dynamic: as arrogant as Lionel was, he would never involve a third-party in any of his peccadillos. Watching closer, Lex noticed that Clark’s eyes became almost lifeless as Dominic approached with two glowing green bracelets that he snapped on Clarks wrists.

“Oh, God… Clark!” Lex watched in horror as the meteor bracelets seemed to immediately reduce Clark's presence. Despite his love for his friend, Lex had been ready to believe that Clark could have betrayed him to Lionel or that Clark could have even sold himself… physically… to Lionel. But, Lex had far too much experience with Clark protecting his secrets and taking the responsibilities of the world on his shoulders (alone because he was afraid to trust his friends and family) to believe that he would have willingly handed himself over to Lionel so completely.

Sensing the change in Lex’s demeanor, Bruce released him.

They watched as Lionel finally came into the camera’s range. Prowling up to Clark, Lionel placed a hand on Clark’s bare chest… enjoying how the boy cringed from his touch. Catching Clark’s chin, he forced Clark to meet his eyes and ran his hands over Clark’s torso, lingering whenever he caused Clark to shudder, and laughing as he did.

“Who shall it be today whipping boy? Chloe? Your Parent’s? … or”

“Lex.” Clark croaked, his voice rough and scratchy.

Lex sat bolt straight as Lionel laughed snidely, “You are a glutton for punishment… And, since it’s an expensive commodity and a seller’s market, I’ll set a price at a premium. Shall I?”

Clark’s lips pressed into a thin angry line as he nodded.

Lionel grinned as he continued, “You’re certain now… You can always turn it down?”

Clark growled with a voice becoming more raw, “I’ll pay it.”

“Excellent, Let’s start off then with 2 for traffic violations, 5 for drunk and disorderlies, 10 for possession, 20 for misdemeanors, and 40 for felonies.” Lionel purred in a tone that made Lex want to vomit.

“2 of what? For what?” Lex asked in confusion.

Bruce shuddered slightly remembering everything he had viewed before calling Lex.

“Bruce?” Lex’s voice was heavy with concern and fright.

“Lashes…” Bruce’s voice shook as he desperately wished that he could spare his friend of the knowledge.

“Lashes…” The word made no sense to Lex until he looked back to the DVD screen to see Clark turning his back to Lionel as Dominic handed Lex’s father an evil looking bullwhip.

“For your past misdeeds.” Bruce finished as Lionel asked “So Dominic, what month are we working through this time?”

“Sir, it’s December” Dominic’s mention of the year was lost in Lex’s gasp… just as it had been lost in Bruce’s earlier. For both men, the holiday seasons particularly nearing Christmas were the most emotionally charged and, subsequently, the most reckless times of the year. Glancing at Clark’s almost trembling form, Lex knew that Clark had been aware of it, also.

Bruce reached up to fast-forward, deliberately blocking the screen with his hand as Dominic began to slowly read the list of offenses… starting with a misdemeanor. Blocked by Bruce’s hand, Lex only heard the snap of the whip and Clark’s gasp as the first strike made contact. Grabbing his friend's wrist, Lex pulled the obstructing hand down in time to see Clark stagger back up, coughing as he ground out from between clenched teeth “one”.

Lex cursed as he realized that Lionel was actually forcing Clark to count each blow, and knew from the punishments of his youth that Lionel would start back at the beginning anytime Clark lost count.

“Lex… there’s something else…” Bruce forced his hand past Lex’s to set the DVD player on 32x the normal speed, forcing Lex to watch Lionel’s abuse of Clark in disjointed, writhing images that showed more and more of Clark’s body covered in bloody welts and streaks; but, spared him the actual sound of the whip making contact and the growing screams that would haunt Bruce for quite some time. Even at that speed, Clark’s beating stretched out what felt like a horrifically long time until, at last, Clark didn’t stand back up. Bruce’s hand jumped out and returned to the DVD player to it’s normal speed.

Violently shaking, Clark was curled on the floor covered from his head to his ankles in a smear of blood that left nothing untouched, surprising even Lex with his father’s cruelty.

“Dominic,” Lionel called glibly as he knelt by Clark, like a safari guide admiring his newest trophy “I believe he’s cold… why don’t you light a fire and bring in his little treasure chest… I’d say he’s earned them.”

Lionel ran a strand of the bullwhip down Clark’s side causing the boy to jerk away as Lionel watched for something that didn’t show. After a moment, he laughed again cruelly, “very good, there seems to be some life left in you. With that being the case, my son has meetings scheduled all day tomorrow in Metropolis, so if you’d like to come back and buy a little more innocence for Lex… I have more to sell.”

Lex shuddered at his father’s words, and jumped as Lionel aimed a sharp slap into the center of Clark’s mutilated back, finishing “As always, it’s a pleasure doing business with you.” He nodded to Dominic who had returned, carrying a large ornate box and a key ring with twenty to thirty keys –all carved out of the meteor rocks—then stood up and left.

Bruce and Lex both stifled moans that echoed Clark’s as Dominic set the box in front of him and forced the key ring into his hand, saying “I believe the standard time limit is 20 minutes in which time you can burn anything that you can get out of the box and into the fire. After that, both the box and the bracelets go back to their owner…” as he finished Dominic took a seat on the couch – to watch.

Lex wasn’t aware when the tears had started. He watched as the bloody form barely recognizable as Clark crawled painfully over to the box, gingerly tested each of the stinging keys until the fourteenth finally opened the box, and shuddered as he forced the box open releasing a surge of bright green that painted his body venomously.

And, somewhere in that time, Lex began to cry so hard that his tears mercifully blurred his vision. Bruce sighed sadly, pulling Lex into his shoulder for comfort. As he did, he stroked the side of Lex’s face both to give comfort and to keep Lex’s strained stare directed away from the heartbreaking scene of his lover crawling back and forth between the radioactive box and the fire to destroy evidence of Lex’s juvenile crimes, most of which were probably well past the statute of limitations. He was glad that he had remembered to cut the sound after Dominic’s statement so that Lex wasn’t forced to endure the sound of Clark’s painful whimpering whenever he came closer to the box. Eventually, and Bruce was certain too soon for the twenty minute dead line, Dominic returned, locked the box with a master key, and removed bracelets—leaving Clark a huddled mass on the floor.

Finally, Bruce reached up and shut the DVD screen closed. Jolted out of his stunned role as witness, Lex finally realized the stream of questions he hadn’t thought to ask: “Clark? When… was..” he gestured up at the screen... “How… is he? Where?”

Bruce smiled sadly, “He’s up in your bedroom. Alfred and his mother are with him. I don’t really know how he is… he wouldn’t let me check. This morning…I’m sorry I didn’t get to him in time to stop… that. I didn’t expect for it to take so long to convince that little blond editor at the high school that we had a legitimate reason for seeing Clark’s email. Once we did, we saw that one of the sessions had been scheduled for this morning.”

Lex jerked his head from Bruce’s shoulder. Heartbreak, fear, and hope mingled in his voice as Lex asked, “One of?”

Bruce shook his head sharing his own consternation and amazement with Lex over Clark’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his love. He understood the change in Lex’s voice. Like Lex, before he had met Dick, Bruce really hadn’t believed in his own self-worth strongly enough to truly understand that someone could love him so deeply. And, even then, hadn’t truly believed that Dick did, until he suffered and stayed beside him through the worst.

He understood why, Lex, who had never believed in his own worth –at all – had needed to see the DVD drawn from the castles security cameras (to finally exorcise his suspicion of Clark) and needed to hear his next comment…

to understand finally... when actions spoke volumes louder than words… that someone believed he was worth the sacrifice.

“Lex, in Clark’s sent mail folder, there were 26 messages agreeing to a purchase on different dates, and others that agreed to multiple purchases on the same day.” Lex’s heart finally broke – releasing the shards of its icy shell in a multitude of tears.


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